VMware adapts to a BYO world

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VMware is continuing to try to adapt to the new way that people work today, unveiling a new virtualization platform that aims to let businesses deliver both virtual desktops and applications to users in a way that looks the same as workers switch among devices throughout their day. It's a first step for VMware into the application virtualization market.

With Horizon 6, workers will be able to use a tablet, computer, or phone to log into a virtual workspace where they can view all the apps they have access to. Apps could include Microsoft Office, SaaS apps like Salesforce, or heavy apps like those from Autodesk.

In a demo during a webcast to announce the new offering, VMware showed how users can access all the apps they're authorized to use from a single page and switch between devices. When users log on to a new device, they see the same view as the previous device. The company said it worked hard to map Mac commands to Windows for a smooth user experience.

"It's a unified workspace that can give end users any device access to any of their apps," said Sumit Dhawan, vice president and general manager of desktops for VMware.

He stressed the benefits to businesses of getting desktop and application virtualization from a single provider. "Customers no longer have to do all the hard work of stitching things together," he said.

However, while VMware also showed off new admin and management tools, it remains to be seen if Horizon 6 will simplify desktop and app virtualization enough to kick start the market. Desktop virtualization has languished over the years for a few reasons, including that it's been difficult to manage and expensive. More recently, desktop as a service has emerged, from new providers like Amazon, as a way to try to simplify delivery of desktop virtualization.

VMware itself is now offering desktop as a service since its acquisition of Desktone. With Horizon 6, VMware said that users can run the technology on premises or from the cloud. However, it wasn't entirely clear from the company's presentation this morning if running Horizon 6 in the cloud would work essentially like hosted software rather than as a service. The difference is that in a desktop as a service environment, the service provider handles some of the administration like upgrading apps and managing some security administration so that IT managers don't have to.

As more people do their jobs from a variety of devices, including some that they personally own, traditional enterprise vendors are increasingly trying to adapt. While VMware is just getting into app virtualization, Citrix has been in the game for years. It posted several blog items this morning pointing out its long experience delivering app virtualization.

For users, the increased interest from vendors in trying to offer products that meet their needs means they may have an easier time accessing the apps they want to do their job from the devices they prefer.

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